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NBA Summer League has its place in the NBA

Updated on January 22, 2021
Michael Mannen profile image

Writer on Hubpages and Harvard School of Public Health Alumni

Despite the negative sentiments surrounding the NBA summer league, it still has a place in the NBA.

The NBA is expected to retain the NBA summer league as part of its preseason routine. The summer league isn't as bad as everyone in the media paints it to be.

The level of play in the summer league of 2019 was not bad enough to bring an end to the summer league in the future. The NBA Summer League is "definitely not crap" as it is sometimes shown by some media outlets. However, maybe some improvements to the format might be needed to make it worth the time of NBA players and fans.

As most basketball fans know, it's important for rookies to get as much time to play as possible. Watching the summer league is thrilling to most fans. Especially when the Rookie players are nervous and don't perform well. It never fails to inspire enthusiasm.

Since all rookies are still developing, you expect them to have some poor games when they take part in the summer league. Players who don't want to play in the summer league are part of a more important pattern that I've seen in the current NBA game. I feel like the players are scared to play these days. This is partly because players stand to make so much more money than their basketball processors did. This causes modern players to take even more precautions with their bodies to ensure the longevity of their careers and the elevation of their quality of play in court.

It's important to revisit some history germane to the summer league. Summer league has never been important to a player's career. Lebron James signed a 93 million dollars contract with Nike I believe in may of 2003 before he even played a summer league game. And, yes, Lebron played in summer league. So did Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden.

In some cases, talents have been identified and verified in the summer league

Just for fun, Kobe played in the 1996 summer league for the Lakers after being selected as the 13th-pick in the 1996 NBA draft; he had an amazing run in the playoffs. He balled out and averaged 24.5 PPG for his summer league day view.

Alvin Gentry who was then an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons said, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquire, after watching Kobe,

"He's impressive," said Gentry, then an assistant coach of the Pistons. "I have never seen a better player at his age at his position."

Another quote about Lebron from Paul Pierce taken in 2003 around the summer league time.

Paul Pierce: "When I played in my first All-Star Game in Philly [during the 2001-02 season] there was a lot of people saying, 'This kid LeBron is so good, he could be in this All-Star Game right now.' I was like, 'What?'
"Man, Antoine [Walker] was always talking about him, telling me could be better than all of us right then.:

As for the 2019 summer league, it went exceptionally well.

RJ Barrett, who was definitely one attraction in the summer league, ended up finishing well for his day view and bounced back from game 1. He had 10 points on 4-of-18 shooting, including just 1-of-8 from three-point range, and two turnovers in 24 minutes in game 1.

It was good that he did not miss the rest of the summer league because he had a bad game 1. He played through it, which is what you are expected from a top 3 pick. It will likely help him as he enters his rookie season.

I know that many people will say that it's just "summer league." And that it's true, but it's still practiced at NBA basketball, and it allows rookies to get their feet wet for entering the regular season.

Summer league MVPs due rarely become rookie of the year winners or even All-Stars, but just for the record Damian Lillard. Blake Griffin, Jonas Valanciunas, and Lonzo Ball were all MVPs of the summer league.

It is terrible that some players that were balling out in the summer league did not get mentioned by the media like Nickeil Alexander-Walker on the New Orleans Pelicans. He was probably the best player in the summer league. He was selected 17th overall by the Pelicans in the first round.

In the four games in the summer league, he played on average 24.3 PPG and was a good defender with 2.8 SPG. He's a 6'5" Point guard and shooting the guard. He's got a decent shot on him. He was 38.3% from three-point range in college on nearly five attempts per game.

Frank Jackson only played one game in the summer league and showed how potent offensively he can be when he dropped 30 points in 32 minutes for the Pelicans in his debut.

Tyler Hero was better than expected in the summer league. He was the 13th pick selected by Miami after being a one- and done for the University of Kentucky. He also showed much defensive improvement in the summer league.

Jaxson Hayes for the Pelicans really showed his athletic ability and how he might be a great center the pelicans next season.

Barrett took a while but finally found his way in the summer league. Barrett stuck it out and played all five games. He averaged 15.4 PPG on nearly 30 minutes per game in those five games. However, if you exclude game 1, he averaged approximately 17 PPG for the summer league. Just for reference, Kevin Knox averaged roughly 16.8 PPG on almost 30 minutes. For Knox's rookie season he averaged 12.8 PPG on nearly 29 minutes per game.

In all, the NBA summer league has its place in the NBA.

The author.
The author.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Michael Mannen


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